Sun, 11 November 2007
According to the Wikipedia page entitled, Forest Brothers, the Forest Brothers or Miško Broliai were Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian partisans who waged guerrilla warfare against the Soviet Occupation.
The Red Army occupied Lithuania in 1940–1941 and, after the Nazi occupation, again in 1944 until Lithuanian independence in the 1990’s. As Stalinist repression intensified over the years, tens of thousands of Lithuanians hid in the country’s forests. Lithuanian resistance units varied in size from individual guerrillas, armed primarily for self-defence, to large and well-organised groups able to battle large Soviet forces.
The ranks of the resistance swelled when the Red Army attemptėd to conscript young men after World War II, with fewer than half of the youths reporting in some districts. The families of the missing conscripts were harassed by the Soviets and this pushed even more Lithuanians into the countryside. Many enlisted men deserted, taking their weapons with them.
By the late 1940s and early 1950s the Forest Brothers were provided with supplies, military intelligence and support by the British, American, and Swedish secret intelligence services. This support played a key role in directing the Baltic resistance movement. Among the three Baltic countries, the resistance was best organized in Lithuania, where guerrilla units were able to control whole regions of the countryside until 1949.
When not in direct battles with the Soviet Army or special NKVD units, the Forest Brothers delayed Soviet control of Lithuania through ambush, sabotage, assassination of local Communist activists and officials, freeing imprisoned guerillas, and printing underground newspapers.
Captured Lithuanian Forest Brothers themselves often faced torture and execution while their relatives faced deportation to Gulags. Reprisals against collaborator’s farms and villages were harsh. The NKVD units used shock tactics to discourage further resistance such as displaying executed partisan’s corpses in village squares.
Today in Latvia and Lithuania, Forest Brothers veterans receive a small pension. In Lithuania, the third Sunday in May is commemorated as the Day of The Partisan. As of 2005, there are about 350 surviving Forest Brothers in Lithuania. My hat’s off to the brave Lithuanians who fought against the Red Army and the Soviet Occupation.
I hope you all enjoy today’s episode. It’s an intermediate level lesson and a bit unusual. I listen to many language podcasts just to keep tabs on what everyone else is doing and I’ve never come across anything like what we’ll go over today, but first…
Hey, Jonathan! Thanks for the plug, that’s fantastic of you to do it for us! We really appreciate it.
Now a little background on today’s subject. My very first Lithuanian coach is a wonderful guy named Romas Zableckas. Romas is one of those rare individuals who is genuinely friendly, always has his door open to friends and strangers alike, gregarious, hard working, and no matter the difficulty, always has a positive outlook on life. He enjoys playing in his band at numerous local establishments, loves the Lithuanian language, Lithuanian culture and is president of the Lithuanian-American Community of Colorado in the United States. If you’ve never met Romas you’re missing out on one of the world’s great personalities.
Anyway, when I started to learn Lithuanian I spent days in Romas’ kitchen learning how to say, “aš esu, tu esi, jis yra…"
When Raminta decided to be so gracious as to marry a man as unworthy as myself, I thought it would be a great gesture to put together a speech for the wedding – in Lithuanian, of course.
Coincidently, while I was working on the speech, I saw an episode of the comedy television series “Frasier" and the star of the show, Kelsey Grammer, gave a speech that I thought was beautiful. So, I quickly grabbed a pen and scribbled down some notes. I made some changes, went over it with Romas, he made some changes and then he translated it into Lithuanian. He typed it up into both languages and then made two recordings of the speech – one that was slow and one that was fast, put it on a CD and gave it all to me.
Now, how awesome is that?
For months before our wedding I really studied that speech. It’s not short and it wasn’t easy. Day after day, month after month, I walked for miles playing a sentence, repeating it, playing a sentence, repeating it. I didn’t care who saw me walking down a path or taking a break at work assidiuosly repeating the Lithuanian – Out Loud.
I’m sure everyone thought I was crazy, but who cares? Of course, I never mentioned the speech to Raminta. Once I finally had the speech memorized I flew to Lithuania for one of my many visits to see her and we had a small party to celebrate our upcoming wedding.
Now, the speech was the only real Lithuanian I knew so at the party I asked Raminta to tell our guests I would like to make a toast. As they all looked at me I’m sure they were expecting me to say something in English.
Well, I started speaking Lithuanian and Raminta said later she thought, “Oh, how nice," and she thought that after just a few words I would stop, but I just kept going and going.
I nailed the speech without making a mistake, other than my obvious English accent, and we raised our glasses and drank to the toast. It was awesome and Raminta was very touched.
A few months later at our wedding in front of a much larger crowd of Lithuanians and Americans I tried to say the speech again but flubbed it. Oh well, what are you gonna do?
Romas was there again. We had a bilingual wedding ceremony. My brother would say two sentences in English, Romas would say two sentences in Lithuanian, then my brother would say two more sentences in English, Romas would say two more sentences in Lithuanian, and on and on. It was a wonderful day.
Thanks again Romas for all your essential help. Without you, none of it would have been possible.
Today we’ll dust off this old speech. First, we’ll play the slow version done by Romas with an English translation. We’ll go over some vocabulary and then we’ll play the “fast" version of the speech at the end.
For our listener in France who’s going to be giving a speech in Vilnius next month, you can use the beginning of this speech but stop before the words “švęsti mūsų vestuvių." The last word in your sentence will be “čia," the word for “here." So, you’ll be saying, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank all of you for coming here." Just say this at the beginning of your presentation and the crowd should love you. Please get back to us and let us know how it goes. Bon chance!
Now, on with the wedding speech, you know, even today, this speech still makes me emotional when I read it.
Please follow along on the blogpage and keep in mind that no translation is ever going to be perfect. And yes, in English we say, “ladies and gentlemen," but it’s different in Lithuanian. Romas, could you start us off?
aš norėčiau visiems padekoti
kad susirinkote čia švęsti mūsų vestuvių.
Meilė yra neapsakoma jėga,
kuri priverčia mus padaryti dalykus
kurių mes niekada negalvojome,
jog esame pajėgūs padaryti.
Mes nepasirenkame meilės,
meilė pasirenka mus,
tada mes esame bejėgūs pasipriešinti.
Aš niekada negalvojau, kad galėsiu įsimylėti,
kol mano išsvajota moteris
atėjo į mano gyvenimą.
Prašome visus pakelti savo taures,
už pačią gražiausią,
pačią žavingiausią moterį pasaulyje.
Štai – moteris, su kuria aš pasiryžęs
praleisti savo likusį gyvenimą.
Now, let’s go over some vocabulary. Most of these words have been reverted to their forms in vardininkas or the infinitive in the case of verbs. Since Raminta is on the road again she had to pronounce these words over the phone. Sorry if the sound quality isn’t perfect.
to thank padekoti
Okay, now let’s listen to the fast version of the speech without a translation. Take it away Romas!
(for a video of the speech text click here:)